Not sure what to serve your guests? Consider these tips before finalizing your menu.

By Real Simple
Updated February 12, 2013
Debra McClinton

There are many details that guests will remember about your wedding day: great music, the happy couple beaming, and, of course, the food. Yes, that means the menu should be on the top of your list of priorities. Peter Callahan, owner, creative director, and inventive caterer steps in to share his planning advice.

1. Think about the guest list. Sure, your celebration should include the foods you and your fiancé love, but remember you’re also hosts. And, chances are, this might be the largest party you’ll ever be throwing. If you wish to cater to as many guests as possible, think about serving popular picks like filet of beef or a surf and turf option.

2. Envision your dream timeline. It’s important to think about the flow of your wedding and how long you’d like guests seated and eating dinner. The most common (and quickest) option is serving two courses seated, which could consist of something like a wild mushroom soup and the main course. If you're not sure of timing, this is a helpful rule of thumb: A two course meal, with a welcome and brief speech, will generally take about 1.5 hours.

3. Consider the cocktail hour. Believe it or not, this could impact your entire celebration. Is cocktail hour a precursor to dinner (small canapés) or as a hearty meal in itself (think passed hors d’oeuvres, sushi station, pasta bar, and a carving station). A long and heavy cocktail hour can mean fewer courses.

4. Be realistic about your budget. Now’s the time to weigh what’s really important to you and your fiancé. If fine dining is a must, then maybe you’d prefer to have a small wedding and an over-the-top dinner? Or if you’d rather invite more people, than perhaps you’ll cut back during cocktail hour or skip the pasta or soup course.

5. Pay attention to the season and setting. You may love butternut squash, but it might be unrealistic for the time of year you've selected to wed. Take advantage of the fresh, bountiful, in season (and local) flavors.